Our guide to the best walks, cycle trails and climbing routes in the Peak District.Read more...
Mam Tor is Edale’s crowning glory © Muessig, Shutterstock
Edale is a little piece of paradise.
This green and quiet idyll is surrounded by some of the best-loved hills in the Peak District, yet easily accessed by train with a station at Edale village. Before striding out into the countryside or on to the hills, stop off at the Peak Park Moorland Centre, packed with leaflets and suggestions for Edale and wider Peak District activities. This gives a chance to find out about the history and prehistory of Edale and the Peak Park, to learn how man and nature have shaped the landscape and to listen to audio recordings of people who have lived and worked in the area, from the gamekeeper to the farmer.
For such a rural location, Edale plays host to a surprising number of annual events, both delightful and eccentric. Watch out for the lowkey Edale Country Day in June, showcasing animals and traditional rural crafts; the August Edale Spoonfest, centred round spoon carving (truly) and the equally crazy September Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge, when strong types and madmen haul a 72-pint beer barrel up Kinder, a challenging climb at the best of times.
Walking in Edale
Some of the most stunningly beautiful walking in the national park can be accessed from Edale: the Kinder Massif from Jacob’s Ladder on the north side and the Great Ridge Walk, taking in Hollins Cross and Lose Hill on the other side. If you walk the Great Ridge to Mam Tor, you can drop down to Castleton and continue your journey by bus and train.
Edale is famous for being the start of one of Britain's National Trails – the 270-mile Pennine Way © Phil Harland, Shutterstock
For an interesting and informed commentary, you can ramble from Edale Station to The Nabb accompanied by the Edale audio walk guide, in the words of Sally Goldsmith, a writer and singer (download from Moors for the Future). One of the most iconic walks in Edale is an ascent of Jacob’s Ladder, a punishing uphill hike over a rough stepped path – but with superb views over the Edale Valley and the Dark Peak moorlands. Start from The Old Nags Head pub in the hamlet of Grindsbrook Booth – at the beginning of the Pennine Way – then follow the long-distance footpath to Upper Booth. From here the track runs parallel to the River Noe below (not much more than a stream). Cross the narrow pedestrian bridge. On the other side of it, you’ll see the hewn steps of Jacob’s Ladder climbing up into the wild moorland valley. It’s a hard slog to the top but you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Kinder Massif.
The walk covers six miles and takes in some steep inclines. The National Trust, which owns and manages much of Edale, and the Peak District National Park Authority organise walks and events in the dale throughout the year. Look out for the Transpeak Walk station-to-station free guided rambles from the Hope Valley (Glossop and Buxton) lines. Most famously, Edale is the start of the 270-mile Pennine Way, perhaps the best known of Britain’s National Trails, which traces the spine of the Pennines to Kirk Yetholm, over the Scottish Border.
© Muessig, Shutterstock
Legend has it that Mam Tor, or ‘mother hill’, gave birth to a series of mini-hills that now gather round her feet, a sweet and charming explanation for the peak’s name. For a more scientific explanation, you need to understand Mam Tor’s geology. The mini-hills, found on the southeastern face of the hill, were formed by landslides that occurred because of the mountain’s unstable geological make-up: the lower layers of shale underlying the sandstone are prone to slip, particularly after heavy rain. The 1,696-foot hill is also aptly nicknamed ‘The Shivering Mountain’.
From the top, pause a while to watch the hang gliders and paragliders taking off from the ridge and enjoy the panoramic views of Castleton, Edale (curtained by the Dark Peak moorland), the Great Ridge that rises and dips a rocky runway eastward, and Rushup Edge to the west.